Beginner’s Luck: It’s Your Fitness

At the end of the day it's your fitness and it's up to you what you want to do with it, writes Meredith Atwood.

Photo: Getty Images for IRONMAN

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At the end of the day, it’s your fitness and what you do with it is up to you.

As I recently set a goal to complete my eighth 70.3 this upcoming season and realized that the time was ticking to do so, I plopped my buns on the bike trainer this week. I was amazed to see how much bike strength and cadence speed I had “lost” over the last year. But I didn’t care. Because I knew, mentally, what happened. Instead of thinking that was the worst thing that could happen to me, I just admitted that I had shifted my focus from the bike to the weight room, and that’s what happens when you change it up.  No big deal, right?

Sometimes we take much-needed breaks or derivations from the traditional tri training routine, but then we start back training and beat ourselves up for what is “lost” during this rest or off-season. Over the years, I have learned that this behavior is insanity and I don’t know why we do it! After all, we took a break, we did so consciously and often most deservedly.

What have I been “doing” all this time? Well, I experienced some big ole tri burnout and triathlon guilt, so I switched up my fitness routine completely. During the off-season I started CrossFit training—and well, I just kept going. For the past seven months, I have been working on my “constantly varied fitness” and having an absolute ball. Of course, CrossFit isn’t triathlon but it’s very similar in the sense that I am awfully talentless in this endeavor as well. The learning curve is steep, the work is hard, the sweat is disgusting and the rewards are amazing. I love the feeling of reaching a new goal or PR within CrossFit, in much the same way that I enjoy hitting those hard workouts in swim, bike, and run—and seeing the gains.

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As I shift mentally back into triathlon training for the upcoming 70.3, I am reminded of something one of my CrossFit coaches, Josh, says to me (as told to him by one of his mentors). When I complain about a workout or an exercise, he says, “Do what you want. It’s your fitness.”

I had never experienced that simple little statement before, but it hit me like a wet noodle. Oftentimes we can give our coaches or our training partners excuses (“I’m sorry I didn’t get to the workout” or “It just didn’t happen”), and we wait for the affirmation or confirmation from someone else that our decisions, choices and actions are “okay.” We post in Facebook groups looking for acceptance that we skipped a workout, pulled out of a race, or decided not to show up for whatever reason. We wait for the “do what’s best for you” comments so we can feel okay about our choices.

In taking the break from longer distance tri-ing over the last year and also writing my own training plans and sailing my own fitness ship, I have realized that my life, my fitness, and my choices are truly up to me. That I don’t owe a coach, a group or anyone any explanations about my racing and training. That I don’t need to apologize or explain any choices I make with regard to racing or training. At the end of the day, it’s my fitness, and it’s up to me to determine what I do with it.

What a novel concept. Truly.

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Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. She is the host of the podcast, The Same 24 Hours, a show which interviews interesting people who make the best of the 24 hours in each day. You can download a free triathlon race day checklist here. Meredith lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children and writes about all things at She has two books coming out in 2019.

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